Item description for The Mosaic of Christian Belief: Twenty Centuries of Unity & Diversity by Roger E. Olson...
Overview The story of Christian theology has often been divisive and disjointed. Providing a companion to his earlier work The Story of Christian Theology, Roger Olson thematically traces out Christian belief down through the ages, revealing a pattern of both unity and diversity. He finds a consensus of teaching that is both unitive and able to incorporate a faithful diversity when not forced into the molds of false either-or alternatives. The mosaic that emerges from Olson's work displays a mediating evangelical theology that is nonspeculative and irenic in spirit and tone. Specifically written with the nonspecialist in mind, Olson has masterfully sketched out the contours of Christian faith with simplicity while avoiding oversimplification.
Publishers Description An ECPA 2003 Gold Medallion Finalist The story of Christian theology has often been divisive and disjointed. Providing this companion volume to his earlier work The Story of Christian Theology, Roger E. Olson thematically traces the contours of Christian belief down through the ages, revealing a pattern of both unity and diversity. He finds a consensus of teaching that is both unitive and able to incorporate a faithful diversity when not forced into the molds of false either-or alternatives. The mosaic that emerges from Olson's work displays a mediating evangelical theology that is nonspeculative and irenic in spirit and tone. Specifically written with the nonspecialist in mind, Olson has masterfully sketched out the contours of Christian faith with simplicity while avoiding oversimplification.
From Publishers Weekly In this ambitious book, Olson delineates from an evangelical perspective what
is and is not authentic Christian belief. Chapters feature such topics as the
Bible, God, Jesus and the Church, beginning with an overview of orthodox
belief about the topic, citing Scripture, the Church Fathers and noted
Christian writers throughout history. Olson then devotes a section to
heretical beliefs, and follows this with an examination of diverse
non-heretical beliefs among orthodox Christians (including Roman Catholics,
Eastern Orthodox believers, and most Protestants). He ends each chapter
envisioning greater unity among Christians, despite honest disagreements.
While marred by some redundancy and excess verbiage, Olson's writing renders
many complex theological concepts surprisingly accessible. And in his attempts
to separate heresy from right belief, he acknowledges that those who adhere to
beliefs he labels erroneous are usually sincere Christians (he cites wrong
belief among fundamentalists, charismatics, liberal Christians and various
sects). Attempting to mediate among the myriad dogmas, doctrines and opinions
of orthodox Christians is no easy task, and Olson's descriptions of certain
right beliefs and heresies (such as the psychological analogy for the Trinity
and modalism) are sometimes barely distinguishable. Despite these and other
small logical problems, Olson's book contributes greatly to contemporary
evangelicalism not only in its impressive survey of many theologies, but also
in its use of "The Great Tradition" of Christian belief as an essential guide
to orthodoxy. (Oct.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Awards and Recognitions The Mosaic of Christian Belief: Twenty Centuries of Unity & Diversity by Roger E. Olson has received the following awards and recognitions -
Gold Medallion Book Awards - 2003 Finalist - Theology/Doctrine category
Citations And Professional Reviews The Mosaic of Christian Belief: Twenty Centuries of Unity & Diversity by Roger E. Olson has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Library Journal - 12/01/2002 page 136
Publishers Weekly - 09/30/2002 page 66
CBA Retailers - 11/01/2002 page 52
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Studio: IVP Academic
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.21" Width: 6.39" Height: 1.25" Weight: 1.5 lbs.
Release Date Oct 6, 2002
Publisher IVP-InterVarsity Press
ISBN 0830826955 ISBN13 9780830826957
Availability 0 units.
More About Roger E. Olson
Roger E. Olson (PhD, Rice University) is professor of theology at George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University. He is a prolific author whose volumes include The Story of Christian Theology and The Mosaic of Christian Belief. He is also coauthor of 20th-Century Theology.
Roger E. Olson currently resides in the state of Texas.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Mosaic of Christian Belief: Twenty Centuries of Unity & Diversity?
Surprisingly Good! Jan 26, 2006
Having heard and read about the unbiblical views of Roger Olson, I was hesitant to pick this book up and read it. However, after finishing it I don't regret reading this fine systematic theology book at all (though I disagree seriously with Olson on some issues). The book is nicely organized and very easy to read. Also, it is not a mammoth of a book (just over 350 pages) so readers will not have to devote many months to finish it.
I especially liked Olson's balanced style and exhaustiveness. Though he doesn't spend pages upon pages on a certain topic, he adequately covers the various orthodox views, the various unorthodox views, and provides a summarizing a conclusion for each chapter. One will really enjoy reading Olson's first four chapters on theological method, sources, and revelation (general and particular). This section provides a solid foundation on how we are to develop our theologies in the midst of this post-Christian era. His other chapters on God, creation, humanity, Jesus Christ, and salvation were well written. He provides a really balanced view of those topics. The only problem I have with Olson is his "limited providence" view regarding God's sovereignty and his pro-Arminian view of salvation. For a far better treatment of these issues I would recommend systematic theology books by Millard Erickson, Wayne Grudem, and Robert Reymond. I also found at times that Olson did not come down hard on heresies/heretics. There were times when Olson was unwilling to make a judgment call on a person's eternal destiny even if that person held to a very destructive heresy.
Overall, I recommend this book (despite some serious errors). It is easy to read, and thus, will be a useful tool for a systematic theology course. If you're a Calvinist don't get put off by Olson's stance on divine providence and grace. There are useful things in the book for one's personal growth and study.
E Unibus Plurum Aug 8, 2004
Take out a quarter and look at the other motto besides 'In God We Trust'.
It says in Latin: E pluribus unum = out of many, one.
This book unwittingly, but as accurately pegged by a prior reviewer, flip-flops the motto and has that represent the Mosaic of Christian Beliefs:
E unibus plurum = out of one, many.
What we have here is a sacrifice of Unity of Christian Truth to the Diversity of Academic Freedom and Theological License.
Jesus said clearly, 'Thy Word is Truth', NOT 'truths', and especially NOT 'what you think is truth (A) and what I think as truth (non-A) so long as we agree to disagree even on some fundamental doctrines.'
See the book 'Across the Spectrum' for how far this Mosaicism notion gets carried among some hyper-imaginative devangelicals.
RAISES MORE QUESTIONS THAN PROVIDES ANSWERS Jan 3, 2004
The Mosaic of Christian Belief: Twenty Centuries of Unity & Diversity (MCB)
Leaving aside that a book could be written for each of the interesting topics that the fifteen chapters attempt to tackle, and the incredible task of trying to squeeze 2000 years of "Christian belief" into 357 pages, MCB falls short from being a "handbook," as it portrays itself in being, which "seeks to explain to uninitiated" (p. 12).
The book raises more questions than it provides answers. MCB might be more suitable for those that have had a reasonable prior exposure to the subject, and are now looking to stimulate some critical thinking and analysis about the subject. MCB comes short of discussing the topics in-depth or at-length, or for that matter, offering any kind of definitive conclusion. This style may leave some readers, especially the uninitiated, perplexed. The chapters present an extremely fragmented "Christianity," a view supported by some, but without offering any substantial alternate explanations/perspectives from the "mosaic." Given the fragmented treatment, any effort to offer a sense of undergirding unity becomes conflicting, contradictory, and inconsequential.
Just as one would not attempt to teach the "uninitiated" in math the multiplication tables by what they are not without teaching what they are, similarly, it would be unwise to try to learn about "Christian belief" by using a self-proclaimed "handbook" of the subject that fails to address the subject comprehensively.
Given that the present times are being called "post-modern" and "post-Christian," among others, it seems ironic to continue to use "Christian" and "Christianity" to describe/identify a particular community of faith. There may be an urgent need for the "Christian" community to define what "Christian" means in the 21st century. Another option may be to allow "modern Antioch" to rename Christianity. All too often the term "Christian" is used as if it has one standard meaning, and assumes that everyone is acquainted with what it is. Except, if that were the case, there seems little, if any, need even to write a book entitled, The Mosaic of Christian Belief.
In the Preface it says that MCB is the product of "nearly twenty years of teaching introductory courses in Christian doctrine and theology in university, college, and seminary," and that it is the combined result of students and their professor deciding that "what was needed was a very basic, relatively comprehensive, nontechnical, nonspeculative one-volume introduction to Christian belief." If textbooks like MCB are being used in "Christian" universities, colleges, and seminaries, it should be no surprise that some "Christian" churches find themselves in the straights that they are in, and that "modern Antioch" calls these times post-Christian.
Synthesizing Christian Belief Jan 20, 2003
In this book by Professor Olson, Christian history and theology is examined for the many differences and similarities that have characterized different denominations and presuppositions. The aim of this book seems fairly simple: to find a common bond that all Christians everywhere can unite under and find agreement. Olson's plea is for a synthesis over analysis (that is, to examine our theology very thoroughly and rigorously but to press this examination to unity rather than division, which has most often been the case).
Moving through twelve major/basic theological categories (Sources, Revelation, Scripture, God, Creation, Providence, Humanity, Jesus Christ, Salvation, Church, Life beyond Death, and the Kingdom of God), Olson presents the reader with a broad overview of what has typically and historically been held by varying denominations and sects among Christianity.
Again, Olson's goal in all of this is twofold: to present a 'handbook' of sorts for the new student(s) of historical theology and to make a case for a "both-and" theology rather than a divisive position. Although I feel that he falls short of this goal on two or three of the major theological positions, Olson does well in making this a reality that can be worked towards in the theological arena, even presenting the reader with more of a practical, "how-to"-type goal of what this "both-and" can look like.
On the whole, this book is an outstanding read and a tremendous resource. Olson writes very well and often times inspiring as he shares this vision of the theological horizon. This promises to be a great treasure and addition for libraries of pastors, theologians, students, and lay-persons.
Although the "both-and" isn't always going to be present, the overall vision has been set for a goal towards which our modern theology can progress.